It's Time To Acknowledge The Unsung Holidays
Because Christmas is sooo last season.
( @theluzcollective / Instagram )
Christmas is every capitalist’s dream and I’m tired of living in its fantasy. ‘Tis the season where, no matter your religion, social media feeds will be full of festive holiday recipes and DIY gift- wrapping videos. The calm, neutral tones of Thanksgiving are quickly ushered out by the intense reds and greens of The Holiday.
Granted, Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is a timeless classic worthy of year-round praise. However, the message of gratefulness, festivity, and celebration happens to be a universal concept present in many religious groups. Although it’s hard to believe, many other December holidays don’t call for the veneration of an old white guy and what he has to offers.
Although you may be familiar with the two patent December holidays, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, it’s also important to note that these holidays aren’t just another “version” of Christmas. Hanukkah isn’t even the most important Jewish celebration. Hard to believe considering the influence Christmas has had on making other religions conform to a need for a December holiday, huh?
I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are some other December holidays, their religions, and a more venerated holiday you may want to familiarize yourself with.
1) Diwali - Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism
A five-day celebration called the Festival of Lights, Diwali is celebrated in mid-November. Celebrators don fine clothes and light diyas, oil lamps made of clay, and make rangoli, art made on the ground in a special pattern, to celebrate new beginnings. Fireworks are lit, feasts are set out, and gifts are exchanged. This holiday sets out to commemorate the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.
Diwali is a significant Hindu holiday, but it’s also important to emphasize Holi, a two-day festival of colors. Usually around February or March, this festival focuses on letting go of prior hostility and embracing connections with friends and family. The second day, Dhulandi, consists of bright powders like abeer and gulaal en masse.
Baisakhi, or Vaisakhi, is an important Sikh festival in April that celebrates the Sikh New Year. Although it was originally a spring harvest festival, it became pivotal in the practice as it commemorates the formation of the religion’s believers as a whole, the Khalsa. Gurdwaras, Sikh places of worship, are decorated and they recite texts. Bathing in sacred rivers and celebrating with friends are also practiced during this holiday.
Jain’s have various holidays of equal importance and practices vary depending on the sect. A common celebration is Mahavira Jayanti in March or April that celebrates the birth of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. Throughout the day, community worships and rituals take place.
2) Yule (Winter Solstice) - Paganism
The Winter Solstice on Dec. 21st marks the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and is commonly practiced by pagans. Celebrations include building an altar, burning Yule logs, celebrating the natural world, and lighting candles. Yule represents renewal and self-reflection. Paganism emphasizes the natural world as sacred with cycles of birth and death.
There are seven other important holidays in the Wheel of the Year, but Yule represents either the beginning or the end of the year.
3) Hanukkah - Judaism
This holiday of eight days and nights varies in our calendar but occurs on the 25th day of Kislev on the Jewish calendar. Celebrators light the menorah, a lamp with eight main branches and a ninth source, and recite blessings. Traditional foods and gifts are shared during these days commemorating the victory of the Maccabean revolt to reclaim Jerusalem’s Holy Temple.
Although an important holiday, Hanukkah is one of two holidays where work is allowed. Instead, holidays like Yom Kippur call for fasting, prayer, and repentance. This holiday is the Day of Atonement and occurs in the month of Tishrei, typically in September or October. Typically, people attend the synagogue on this day. Rosh Hashanah, another Jewish holiday, celebrates the creation of the world. For two days, Jews ask for forgiveness and eat traditional food.
Season’s tidings extend far beyond the holidays we’ve normalized during winter. Although many cultures have had to popularize a “December holiday,” it’s important to recognize how rich every culture is.
I’m manifesting some Yule-fueled content on my algorithms this season.
Kaylinn Escobar is a Staff Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She's fond of underrated claymation, sitting in extravagant chairs, and yearning to the sound of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice soundtrack. She adores classics, healthcare, and re-told historical fiction. Reach out to her at email@example.com for more info.